A possible clue to why Forum had NDP, Libs closest. And other notes.
By Tom Barrett
Some random thoughts on a flurry of election polls…
Five of the six polls that were released last week suggest the gap between the New Democratic Party and the BC Liberals has narrowed substantially. At the end of the week, B.C.’s two biggest pollsters, Angus Reid and Ipsos Reid, weighed in. Ipsos found a 10-point gap, Angus Reid found a seven-point gap.
As you can see from the chart here, Reid shows the BC Liberals up three points from the beginning of the campaign and the NDP down four points. Ipsos shows the Liberals up six points from their start-of-the-campaign poll and the NDP down three points. Even that six-point Liberal jump from Ipsos is within the poll’s combined stated margins of error — although it’s near the outside edge.
But a trend is apparent. The polls are tightening — just as pretty much everyone predicted at the beginning of the campaign.
Is the shift due to last week’s televised leaders debate? Could be. Or it could be a result of negative Liberal ads or the relentless, if fanciful, Liberal focus on debt, the deficit and the economy during the first two weeks. Or the media’s focus on the same topics and on NDP leader Adrian Dix’s Kinder Morgan switch.
Or, quite likely, a lot of potential voters are just starting to pay attention to politics for the first time in four years.
We’ll never know the real reason because there isn’t enough information available.
Forum’s four point gap: sample skewed?
Not that there’s a shortage of facts and figures flying around from the week’s polls. Take the Forum poll that suggested the gap between the NDP and the Liberals had fallen to four points.
Here’s something interesting about that poll that my colleague Andrew MacLeod pointed out: out of 1,009 respondents, 459 said they voted for the Liberals in the last provincial election. Another 290 said they voted for the NDP, 78 said they voted BC Conservative, 79 said they voted Green, 49 said they voted for other parties and 54 said they didn’t vote.
Forum is to be commended for publicizing this much detail about their poll; not all pollsters do.
But among those respondents who say they voted in 2009, 48 per cent say they voted for the Liberals, 30 per cent for the NDP, eight per cent for the Conservatives, eight per cent for the Greens and five per cent for other parties. Five per cent of the total sample say they didn’t vote.
Here are the results from the 2009 election: Liberal, 46 per cent; NDP, 42 per cent; Conservative, two per cent, Green, eight per cent; others, two per cent.
And an estimated 49 per cent of all eligible voters didn’t vote in 2009.
Questions like this rely on sometimes faulty memories. Respondents who didn’t vote may feel pressured to lie; saying you voted is the socially acceptable answer, after all. And pollsters who discover their sample doesn’t look like the population use weighting techniques to make up for the difference.
Still, on the face of it, this sample doesn’t look much like the real world of B.C. voters.
Gender gap trap?
One interesting difference between the Ipsos and Reid polls involves the gender gap. Ipsos suggests women favour the NDP by a 20-point margin, 50 per cent to the 30 per cent who would vote Liberal. But Reid suggests the gap is eight points, 43 per cent NDP to 35 per cent Liberal. That’s a pretty big difference, but it’s worth remembering that the margin of error goes up as the sample size goes down. Continue reading